Today I attended the White House Initiative (WHI) on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans Community Conversation in Boston, MA. It was an incredible opportunity for CHANGE! This purpose of the event was to participate in a community conversation about the future of educational opportunity and excellence for Hispanic Americans. Juan Sepulveda, The WHI Executive Director executed a a culturally responsive and engaging conversation of where we want to go. He highlighted the vision of the Obama administration and their efforts for Hispanic Americans. One of the things I was most excited to hear was a focus on education from 08 years of age – early childhood education.
He highlighted the 4 Pillars of Education as follows:
1. National Standards & assessments at the federal vs. state level
2. Professionalizing the Teaching Career by
a. Supporting good and effective teachers and encouraging good teachers to get paid more for working in “poor” schools
b. Supporting below average teachers to become good teachers in a variety of ways
c. Focusing on the new generation of potential teachers and encouraging a career in teaching by using forgiveness loans
3. Turn around initiative right now! which means taking the lowest 5% of schools in the US and helping them turn around beginning today
4. Establishing a federal data system to track students' progress and skills.
The day was an exciting opportunity to hear the work the OBAMA administration is doing and also to share our individual perspectives as researchers, parents, students, and community organizers. You heard from many including students who share their experience being undocumented in the public educational system, being a student with mental health disorders and other disabilities. We also heard from community organizers, non-for-profit organizations who work with families and children in the early years or young adults who dropped out of school and educational researchers and Hispanics like myself.
Thank you President Obama and Juan Sepulveda for this once in a life opportunity to share and become active in the education excellence for Hispanic Americans.
Professor Claudia Rinaldi is the Chair of the Education Program at Lasell University. Her areas of research are the implementation of the Multi-Tier System of Supports (MTSS) framework in urban settings with English learners, teacher education in bilingual special education, and diversifying the teacher pipeline. Claudia has authored peer-reviewed publications and a book for educators called Practical Ways to Engage All Struggling Readers. She lead and developed a graduate certificate program in Teaching Bilingual Students with Disabilities for general, ESL and special education teachers geared towards applying research-informed practices to the questions and processes of identifying whether it is a language difference or a learning disability. Claudia developed a college mentoring program called Pathways to Teacher Diversity for districts and teacher education programs to partner in identifying and supporting underrepresented high school students interested in teaching careers to successfully access and persist in college. She serves in various boards including the National Center for Learning Disabilities and serves as an expert for Understood.org and the National Center for Intensive Interventions.
Professor Claudia Rinaldi believes that it is critical to prepare teacher leaders who may serve as advocates and allies and who will respond to the belief that all students can learn and succeed beyond barriers like culture, language, disability poverty, and marginalization in our country and globally.